Slowvember

Seeking Stillness Seeking Stillness

The big chill is upon us.

It’s here whether we like it or not.

And as the world begins to freeze, we are invited to turn inwards. To slow down and focus on welcoming in soothing experiences, creating moments of calm, and allowing space for the appreciation of small things.

This is the time of year we are called to be gentle with ourselves. To be more mindful in the face of the fierce consumerism that marks the end of the western calendar year. To be vigilant in caring for ourselves and protecting our energies from the dwindling daylight and fiercely cold, dark winter.

This is how it is meant to be. A cycle of life and death, light and dark, fast and slow, yang and yin. An ever-changing seasonal shift as we ebb and flow with the tides of the sun and moon and the cosmic wonders that lie beyond. Humans have lived this way for millennia – following the changing sky and signals of Mother Earth’s many creatures and lifeforms to live in union with the natural way.

But over the last hundred years or so things have… changed.

After the onset of the Industrial Revolution we’ve quickly lost touch with our natural ebb and flow in favour of shiny consumerism and capitalism. As our drive to consume more and more has increased, our connection to ourselves, the planet and our cyclic nature has diminished. We are walking upon an Earth that is desperately calling out for us to listen, but we are distracted by gadgets, flashing lights and the next exciting new thing. We have become enveloped by yang and have forgotten there is balance to receive. We have lost site of our yin.

Never fear.
Yoga is here.

We can use the techniques of Yoga and mindfulness to begin to tap back into our natural power as land keepers of the Earth and find a new sense of connection with the ancient and cyclic wisdom that she can provide us.

To place our hands, hearts and eardrums back against the beating heart of Mother Earth and feel her energy guiding us.

To begin to slow right down, as the rest of the planet does the same, and honour the energetic shift towards winter that anchors us in the present moment.

Yoga is an ancient philosophical path developed over 6000 years ago – more if you look closely at evidence in the ancient worlds for a practice that looks a lot like Yoga and meditation – and so carries the force of something that has survived the test of time in order to provide us with a practice so immensely nourishing that it’s hardly changed in all that time.

The ancient Yogis and Tibetan monks practiced different forms of mindfulness and meditation in order to commune in union with the divine, with the bodymindbreathspirit alchemising as one. In order to find this place of great union, they would sit and meditate for a good portion of their lives in honour of the sanctity of stillness and the wisdom of silence.

It’s not my belief that you, as a householder and modern person, need to sit and meditate for years in the Himalayan mountains in order to honour stillness. However – 20 minutes a day would be a good place to start. If you can’t find that time in your day, maybe something else needs to go. There is an old Zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy – in which case you should sit for an hour.”

I’m mostly kidding, but you get the point. Nobody is too busy to meditate – chronic business is the sickness of our consumer society. Slow down, take a minute and sit in stillness. See what comes up for you. Journal your thoughts. 

If traditional meditation really feels like it really might be a bit too much right now? You can find slowness and mindful moments all through your day. Try mindful cooking, walking, breath work, swimming, painting, sound bath, tai chi, qi gong, yoga, ecstatic dance… you get the picture. Find your own heartbeat, your own rhythm of slowness and what nourishes your soul. Mindfulness can be found in the everyday – if we simply slow down and pay attention to ourselves.

So as we turn into the winter months, let this be your invitation. 

Feel the natural energy shift as the Earth begins to settle down for a winters nap.
Feel the shift in your body as your natural urge to DO DO DO softens and slows down.
Feel the cold, notice the darkness and let it help you turn inwards to nurture and nourish yourself.

Be present with what is.

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